A Flower Blooms on the International Space Station
We all laughed at the silly premise that a man could grow anything in space. That’s why The Martian took home best comedy at the Golden Globes, right? (It’s either that or the solid 30 minutes of poop jokes Matt Damon made.) But growing plants in space is in not a punch line nor science fiction anymore. As we've covered before, astronauts have grown extraterrestrial lettuce and are already eating some of their crops. Heck, they've even aged whiskey in orbit. But the latest horticultural news to come down from above is U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly's success at blooming a zinnia on the space station, tweeting this photo on Saturday:
The flower was cultivated in the station's Veggie plant system, which grows aeroponically—a method that does not require soil, but instead an air or mist environment and can allow plants to grow up to three times faster than normal. Sustainable, edible food is key to allowing longer-term space travel to places like Mars and beyond, and would certainly beat the mushy stuff astronauts currently eat. While many are claiming that this is the first flower to bloom in space, some space program fans are quick to point out that a personal experiment conducted by astronaut Don Pettit in 2012 saw the successful growth of a zucchini and sunflower from zip-lock bags. Still, the zinnia is a beautiful (and edible) reminder that perhaps life can exist beyond our planet's environment. It's one small plant for man, one giant leap for space florists.